The art of printing had so increased the number of books, that public libraries began to be collected, and, what is better, to be used. The universities enlarged their borders, new colleges were added to Cambridge and Oxford; new foundations laid. The note of preparation betokened a great advent; the scene was fully prepared, and the actors would not be wanting.
Upon the death of Henry VIII., in 1547, Edward VI., his son by Jane Seymour, ascended the throne, and during his minority a protector was appointed in the person of his mother’s brother, the Earl of Hertford, afterward Duke of Somerset. Edward was a sickly youth of ten years old, but his reign is noted for the progress of reform in the Church, and especially for the issue of the Book of Common Prayer, which must be considered of literary importance, as, although with decided modifications, and an interruption in its use during the brief reign of Mary, it has been the ritual of worship in the Anglican Church ever since. It superseded the Latin services—of which it was mainly a translation rearranged and modified—finally and completely, and containing, as it does, the whole body of doctrine, it was the first clear manifesto of the creeds and usages of that Church, and a strong bond of union among its members.
OTHER WRITERS OF THE PERIOD.
Thomas Tusser, 1527-1580: published, in 1557, “A Hundreth Good Points of Husbandrie,” afterward enlarged and called, “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie, united to as many of Good Huswiferie;” especially valuable as a picture of rural life and labor in that age.
Alexander Barklay, died 1552: translated into English poetry the Ship of Fools, by Sebastian Brandt, of Basle.
Reginald Pecock, Bishop of St. Asaph and of Chichester: published, in 1449, “The Repressor of Overmuch Blaming of the Clergy.” He attacked the Lollards, but was suspected of heresy himself, and deprived of his bishopric.
John Fisher, 1459-1535: was made Bishop of Rochester in 1504; opposed the Reformation, and refused to approve of Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Arragon; was executed by the king. The Pope sent him a cardinal’s hat while he was lying under sentence. Henry said he would not leave him a head to put it on. Wrote principally sermons and theological treatises.
Hugh Latimer, 1472-1555: was made Bishop of Worcester in 1535. An ardent supporter of the Reformation, who, by a rude, homely eloquence, influenced many people. He was burned at the stake at the age of eighty-three, in company with Ridley, Bishop of London, by Queen Mary. His memorable words to his fellow-martyr are: “We shall this day light a candle in England which, I trust, shall never be put out.”
John Leland, or Laylonde, died 1552: an eminent antiquary, who, by order of Henry VIII., examined, con amore, the records of libraries, cathedrals, priories, abbeys, colleges, etc., and has left a vast amount of curious antiquarian learning behind him. He became insane by reason of the pressure of his labors.